About the blog
Thanks for taking the time to sign up, really appreciated – you have joined 11,000+ other people who have taken the time to register. If you want others to know about you – please make sure you provide accurate email and name – possibly even a photo (avatar). You can do this under the “account” menu item. But first – before I forget – please subscribe to my video channel.
I’ve been interested in electronics since I was a kid (and as you can see, that’s a very long time ago). I played around with radios, amps and logic as a teen, even making my own equipment for a disco that a group of us ran for years. For a while, I took to photography (I think that is fairly common with electronics enthusiasts) and with the advent of digital cameras I’ve been able to make great use of those skills (I have a new blog for that – take a look if you’re interested).
In the 1980s, with a professional background in engineering, I took up electronics fully time by going into business, helping to design the “world’s first video jukebox”. My first stop was providing tech support for our product at the World’s Fair at Tokyo, Japan and from there I helped design all sorts of systems using microprocessors which took me all over the EU and to America where I met the woman who is now my wife. I took an interest in MS Windows late 1992 and have use it almost every day since then, pretty much avoiding Linux until 2015 with the launch of the Raspberry Pi Model 2 when it made sense to take an interest in Raspbian (Debian)..
Just after the turn of the century I took on the role of National IT Chairman (and board director) of the Federation of Small Businesses – a role I managed for 14 years during which time I often travelled around the UK and the EU as well as visiting Microsoft HQ in Seattle, USA which meant I had less time for my favourite subject of electronics but that didn’t stop me blogging about new and interesting stuff – and of course given my role I got to go to HQ offices of the likes of Microsoft in UK and Brussels, Dell (Ireland), Google (Ireland and Brussels) and others to see their latest innovations.
In 2013 I became vice-chairman of an EU project in addition to my other roles and that took me to Brussels regularly for meetings (of course enjoying the many excellent beers they have over there as well as making lots of new friends).
I am married to Maureen Scargill and have five grandchildren. Recently with various changes in our lives, Maureen and I chose to scrap our external roles and instead spend as much time as possible in Southern Spain, away from the miserable weather in the UK and this has given me ample time to focus on my favourite subjects, writing about tech gadgets and implementing/developing IOT home control.
Today I can concentrate on what I do best – tinkering. Back in the ’90s our electronics company was making wired home control systems using PIC microprocessors – during which time I thoroughly enjoyed every minute designing new products – but we knew then that ultimately, wireless (preferably without countless batteries) was the way to go – at the time, the latter option was expensive.
With the advent of Arduino, the ESP8266/ ESP32 and the Raspberry Pi 2/3/4 (and similar tiny Linux machines from FriendlyArm and others too numerous to mention) it has become relatively easy to create massively powerful home control systems – and that is just what I’m doing. Add Amazon Alexa, Google Home and similar devices – many sci-fi dreams are rapidly becoming reality.
Our homes both in the UK and Spain have Raspberry Pi (right now Pi4) as central controllers using my favourite tool “Node-Red” as the brains and communicating over WiFi largely with MQTT – and I have ESP8266 controllers all over the place doing various jobs from heating and lighting to watering system control, sound effects, mood (serial LED) lighting – you name it. You can read all about that in the “Home Control 2020” blog entry as well as various other blog entries.
Please do take the time to look through the posts – there are hundreds of them – and some of the reader comments in here form a superb library of helpful information. I am forever grateful to those who spend the time to come into the blog to help and advise myself and others – I’m also eternally grateful to those readers who have found the blog useful and made a small donation to help feed my Ebay habit – which usually results in more blog entries and….
From time to time I do product reviews, sometimes of products I have purchased, other times the products are supplied by manufacturers hoping for a decent review. While I welcome all interesting devices arriving at my door – be aware, if it is rubbish – I WILL say so.
Once again – thanks for taking the time to register – and please – DO comment – let us have the benefit of your ideas – there’s a thriving community in here of people who love to make things.